One Thing Everyone Can Learn From the Presidential Debates

By Lauren Gelman

One Thing Everyone Can Learn From the Presidential Debates
Regardless of whether or not last night’s debate changed how you feel about the presidential candidates, watching their speaking styles closely may help you improve your own ability to influence and curry favor with others. That’s the argument corporate consultant Mim Abbey puts forth in a recent Huffington Post blog post.

She says the best candidates use what she calls “The Book Approach” to answer questions in a compelling way that encourages people to listen and respect you. Here’s what it entails:

1. Repeat the main point of the question (like stating a book’s title) to make sure your audience understands the topic you’re about to address.

2. Reveal how many points you’ll make to answer the question, which Abbey says is like a book’s table of contents that outlines its chapters. This helps organize your thoughts, which helps the speaker sound more prepared and so “we’re more likely to take their message seriously and less likely to dismiss it.”

3.  Announce when you’re moving on to a new point (“The second thing you need to know is” or “the third reason is”). This method, another way to ensure clarity, helps us “feel respected and understood by the speaker, who has clearly anticipated our need for that kind of organization so we don’t have to scratch our heads while we try to figure out what they’re actually saying.”

Abbey recommends this approach whenever you need to make a case to someone—be it justifying a new flat screen TV purchase to your spouse or why you deserve an end-of-year bonus to your boss. Now if only it would work getting my toddler to potty train or eat broccoli …

Photo Credit: © Hemera/Thinkstock

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